Case study: teaching geography
Mike Simmons, geography teacher
Mike spent three years as a geography undergraduate at Loughborough University, and it was there that he realised he wanted to become a teacher. “I did a lot of sports, work experience and working with students, which gave me a lot of experience to take into the classroom.” Mike then completed his teacher training and has been working at The Arthur Terry School in Birmingham ever since.
Geography teaching incorporates classroom-based teaching, field trips and lots of opportunity to get involved with extracurricular activities. Mike loves his classroom-based work, but also enjoys taking students all over the world to show them how interesting geography can be. “You’ll take a student to Wales to show them a mountain, and they just see a mountain. But when you start to unpick the different layers and explain how the landscape was formed, you see that light-bulb moment and their enthusiasm instantly grows.”
In his second year of teaching, Mike organised and successfully ran an extracurricular trip to Iceland for 44 students. “We explored glaciers, volcanoes, hot pools and geysers, which was very challenging from a health and safety perspective. But once we got them all back and they were safe with their guardians, I had a real sense of achievement.” Mike was overwhelmed by how much impact the trip had on the students he took, and says it was a delight to see them bursting with energy and excitement to tell their parents what they’d seen.
Whether he’s embarking on a field trip, helping students with their Duke of Edinburgh award or teaching in the classroom, Mike knows that at the end of any week he will have a great sense of achievement. “It’s challenging – of course – but the rewards are endless. Every week is different, and there’s nothing like knowing your students enjoy learning about a subject you enjoy teaching.”
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